Beam Me In: Putting Hologram Technology to Practical Use

Rapper Tupac Shakur performed on stage at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival over the weekend – an especially remarkable feat considering he died in 1996. It turns out Tupac appeared courtesy of James Cameron, a 16th-century scientist and a very large screen.

The recipe for Tupac’s resurrection is a variation on the old Pepper’s Ghost trick, according to Time magazine: one part concert footage, one part CGI effects provided by Cameron’s Digital Domain company and AV Concepts, mix until life-like and project onto a large yet inconspicuous screen.

The Pepper’s Ghost trick is thought to date back to the late 1500s and the camera obscura idea put forth by Giambattista della Porta. On stage, Tupac appeared remarkably lifelike. MTV reported that four months and around $400,000 went into creating the hologram. However, based on the idea that technology shrinks as it becomes more sophisticated (see smartphones, iPods, tablets, etc.) and proves more readily available to the public, we came up with five other ways we could put this hologram technology to good use.

The Show Must Go On

The Tupac hologram already boasts its own Twitter account, with more than 21,000 followers, and rumours are circulating about taking the projection on tour. This begs the question – what about other deceased artists? Using the same technology, could Elvis, the Beatles or even Whitney Houston make a comeback? Or how about Mick Jagger grooving onstage in a duet with his younger, more vibrant self?

Of course, the older the footage of the artist, the more work it would take to restore it, but when utilizing this technology for living artists, imagine the money to be saved on flowers, scented candles and a 40-foot trailer.

The Politics of It All

The ol’ shaking hands and kissing babies routine is a necessary evil when it comes to running for public office. Since too many politicians prove to be about as sincere as a hologram anyway, why not pre-record speeches and beam them into campaign stops? Access to the technology at a cheaper price would help level the playing field for candidates and free up governments to put re-election funds toward more worthwhile means, such as an “escalator to nowhere.”


You’ve heard of candygrams and singing telegrams, so why not a holo-gram? A peppy delivery person in a candy-striped suit shows up at your loved one’s door, clicks a button on a handheld device and invokes your 3-D image to wish a happy birthday, anniversary or holiday. It’s personal, takes extra time and effort and holds a little more credibility than that fruitcake you send every Christmas.

Bringing Hollywood Home

Speaking of special occasions, imagine you could ensure your teenage grandchild that Justin Bieber or the cast of Twilight would make an appearance at their next birthday. Working on a similar premise as the hologram, pre-recorded celebrity birthday greetings and mini-performances could help turn your young one’s next party into one that resembles a bash on the hit show My Super Sweet Sixteen – you know, minus the spoiled-brat kid and inflated sense of entitlement.

The Cure for Monday Morning Meetings

Need to host an early morning meeting at the office? If your stats can be presented via PowerPoint screen, why can’t you? Beam a healthy, vibrant and enthusiastic version of yourself into the boardroom to make the pitch while the real you leans over the bathroom sink at home, peering into the mirror while wondering where all those shiny new grey hairs came from.

– Mike Crisolago